OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Fire investigators were unable to determine what caused the blaze at an Oakland, California, warehouse that killed 36 people last December, according to a report released late Monday.
According to the
posted late on the city of Oakland’s website, investigators cannot rule out an electrical failure, candles, incense, smoking material or an open flame as possible causes.
Investigators determined the blaze originated on a back corner on the ground floor of the two-story building but they couldn’t pinpoint a cause because of the extensive fire damage.
Derick Almena, 47, and Max Harris, 27, were each charged earlier this month with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths during an unpermitted dance party.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Almena had turned the warehouse into a “deathtrap.”
Visitors and tenants alike described the Ghost Ship as a warren of scrap wood, sofas, old pianos and snaking electrical cables. Several said Almena, who rented the building, brushed them off when they voiced concerns.
Lawyers for Almena and Harris say their clients are being used as scapegoats and that the building owner should be the one facing criminal charges.